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Monday, February 28, 2011

MD Anderson Visit – Testing and Medical Oncologist / Graceful Woman

We left the house the morning of the 23rd, at 4:30AM.  A little early for us; Felicia normally leaves the house at 5AM, to go to work downtown.  But we had appointments all day long, so a long day is in store for us.

Got down there before 6, but the place she was supposed to give blood was not open yet.  So we waited for it to open.  Once we got in for Felicia to give blood, I went and checked to see where and when the shuttle would run.  I was gone probably 5 minutes and was headed back up the elevator and here’s Felicia coming down!  She said the lady was messing around with her arm and asked her to put pressure on it.  Of course she thought she was holding the needle for some reason, but looked over and the lady was done! 

Our next appointment was at 6:30, offsite from everything else.  It was about 3-4 blocks down Holcombe, so we were trying to decide if we were going to wait on the shuttle or walk.  Shuttles do not start until 7, so our decision was made for us.  We walked.   Arrived in plenty of time and by 7, they had called Felicia in for her CT scan. 

At 9AM she went in for the nuclear isotopes to be injected.  This is for the bone scan; the isotopes go into the bones…making them easier to see.  They injected her with nuclear medicine; does that mean she will glow in the dark?  That could come in handy for reading at night!  HA!  Kidding, kidding….That took a little while, but once she was done we were free for almost two hours.  The In-laws were downtown also, so we went to lunch with them.

We came back at 11AM for the bone scan, which they say only takes a few minutes.  They came and got her and she was back before I could blink.  They are like a well oiled machine down here.

The assessment with the medical oncologist was next.  The medical oncologist is the one who decides if and how much chemo she will be given.  The scary part!  After meeting with her, she gave us the low down.  Four weeks after the surgery she will start chemo, a treatment every 3 weeks for 6 months and then 6 weeks of radiation.  That’s a lot to take in!

There it is, the day in detail.  Except for one thing….

My bride showed incredible grace and strength through all of this!  I listened to her laughing and joking with the techs at the CT place.  I listened to her asking the oncologist about the side effects.  She always jokes that she is a big wuss when if comes to being sick or anything like that!  I think she always has been worried that she will not be able to handle what is coming.  But, I saw a woman who is confident in her God!  Confident that He will take care of her no matter how this turns out!  Praise God, that He has given me a wife like that!  Jesus is my “solid rock”, but she is my anchor here on this earth.  With a wife who lives with Grace like that, I can’t help but be a better man!

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7

 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.   John 16:33

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

How I Learned to Drink, Spit and Cuss

I learned to drink, spit and cuss from one family group, ok the spitting I can’t blame on anyone.  The first summer we lived in Higbee Colorado, we were babysat by a neighbor girl.  I say babysat, but that was a pretty loose term considering what we learned! 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

MD Anderson Visit: Imagery & Surgical Consult

We got started a little late on Tuesday, so we had to drive in some traffic.  I say we, but since I don’t do Houston traffic, Felicia drove to MDA.  Maybe I will have my nerve up to drive back this afternoon.

When we got here we had to fill out miles and miles of paperwork, I guess it is a necessity, but man. What a pain!  Out first stop after the paperwork was for Felicia to get anther mammogram done.  I could tell Felicia was not looking forward to that, of course who is?  Felicia says with all of the squeezing and squishing that goes on, it is unpleasant to say the least!  Next was something called an “us, breast with FNA”.  I think this was the ultra sound.  Seemed pretty simple, we had one when the girls were born…but this one takes on a whole new meaning with you have cancer involved!  Both of these were for testing, we didn’t know anything new when we left.  Good news for Felicia, I got up the nerve to drive back out to Waller in all the Houston traffic!

Wednesday we got in to see the oncological surgeon.  Well technically, we saw her last.  First was the nurse, who did the initial interview.  Then came in the PA, she got more in depth and started throwing big words at us.  When she was done, in came the surgeon.  She addressed some of the same things as the PA and spoke to us about the options.  She said that the cancer is estrogen and HER2 positive.  So the lumpectomy with the radiation has about the same odds of success as a full mastectomy.

This is the plan:

Surgery ( lumpectomy) on March 24, then once she heals from that…about 4 weeks….she does six months of chemo (Doc says about 90% of the patients have to go through chemo, it is up to the medical oncologist).  Once the chemo is done, she does the radiation (which is five days a week for six weeks). 

This is a lot to take in and I’m sure some of the details are not quite right, so below is an email Felicia sent out probably with some of the same info.

Good evening.

Just wanted to thank everyone for your thoughts and prayers as I went to MD today to meeting with the doctors.  What a place!!  Man they have all the procedures and appointments down to a fine art – thank God I  am at the best place.

I really like my doctor – she met with us today for about an hour and a half making sure we had all the information we needed…. And maybe a little too much.. LOL!  There was a lot to soak in.

I will be having surgery on the 24th of March to remove the mass and the tissue around it (about 2 ½ centimeters) at that time if the medical oncologist agrees I will also have a port put in.   After healing from that (about 4 weeks) I will begin chemo treatment for about 6 months, when done with that I will begin a 6 week treatment of radiation – which is 5 days a week.  There is a very small possibility that I will not have chemo – my doctor tells me that the final decision is made by the medical oncologist.  The driver in that decision is that I was positive for HER2, which is a marker for the type of cancer.  She feels very certain that I will be having the chemo treatment.

Lots of info today – I am sure there is more to come… but we are just taking it one day at a time.  Thanks again for all your continued prayers and positive thoughts.  

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4;4-7

She says that since we have waited so long to see the doctors, she is ready to just get moving on this whole thing!  I agree, funny how once you turn it all over to the Lord how much less stress is involved!  I cannot imagine how someone that doesn’t know the Lord can get through this without a stroke!  I know I stressed pretty good before I gave it up to the Lord, but he caught my heart with Philippians 4:4-7. 

So through all this, all I can say is “His will, not mine”.  Please continue with your prayers, God has a plan and I eagerly await him to reveal it to us.

Note to Self: Don’t Laugh at Mom

People will do strange things when they are scared or startled.  Things that are way out of ordinary for their personality, things that will make you shake your head….or in my case, duck!

I will start this with the statement that my parents were not abusive.  They believed in consequences’ for our actions (check out: I Yelled Ugly Names at Her the Whole Time), which in the case of young boys like my brother and I….usually included a spanking!  I only got one I didn’t deserve (check out:  The Only Spanking I Didn’t Deserve), but I think I more than made up for it by all the things I did get away with!

When we moved from the place on Highway 350, in La Junta Colorado, Dad had already gone on to a new job.  So, us kids and Mom packed everything and did most of the move.  There was whole lot of boxes and, in the spirit of moving, some crabby attitudes.  Now, I’ll be honest, I was pretty crabby about the whole move.  We were moving away from everyone I grew up with and I was not happy about that at all!  You know, those crazy/ mouthy teenage years…I always had some sort of back talk going and invariably, it got me into trouble.  We have always joked about the great American adventure…moving!  It draws families closer….yada, yada, yada!   As a family, we probably fought more when we were moving than at any other time…and that’s saying a lot (Cully and I were close to the same age and as we got into our teenage years, there were some epic fights…might have to write about some of those some time!)  This story is about a poor choice on my part.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

It's Not Stop, Drop and Roll...But....

When I worked for the cutting horse trainer I mentioned in (I'll Show You How It's Done), I was still pretty wild and young.  After I had finally gotten to the point he trusted me to ride colts, I learned quite a lot.  As I said, most of it was of the “what not to do variety”, but I did learn a lot.

Once someone brought this big sorrel colt, he was pretty strong and could buck a little, but he actually turned into a pretty nice colt.  At the beginning, he was just a little twitchy.  I guess he was a little scared of what I was going do to him, and I didn’t have sense enough to see the danger signs or even offer him anything different.  Usually after about a week of riding in a pen, we started taking the 2YRO’s out into the pastures to ride.  This at times was a little western, especially with this particular colt! 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Memoirs of a Mill Iron Wrangler

When I was about 12 or 13, my Dad helped run a mounted youth drill team called the Mill Iron Wranglers.  Sort of like the Westernaires, just not nearly so famous (FYI…Dad was a Westernaire, when he was a kid).  We met weekly (or was it weakly?) to practice during the summer months.  At the time he was a real stickler for details.  I can still hear him yelling at everyone else…”spacing, spacing, spacing!”  Of course he wasn’t yelling at me….I mean come on, I was always paying attention!  We ran mounted drills and if the spacing wasn’t right, there was potential to have crashes and scrapes.  But you can only hammer kids for so long before you start to lose their attention. So Dad was always telling us about the things him and his buddies did to alleviate their boredom.  We were constantly trying to ride standing in the saddle, which it turns out…is easier to do in a lope than a trot or walk.  Who would have thought that!  Roman riding was only attempted once (by me), it helps to have two horses that will move side by side and without fighting (learned that one the hard way).  But the one we probably had the most fun with was the rescue race.  Now these are fairly common in gymkhanas, but I haven’t seen it done in a long time!  The gist is that a rider runs to the other end of the arena to a person standing on the ground (behind a barrel), that person then swings up behind the saddle and you race back…fastest time wins.   Seems simple enough....